Here we go. Welcome to the new parliamentary session.
Ms. Fraser, who was testifying on the first day of the long-awaited Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal, said that in examining the Public Works' department's annual performance reviews, she could find no mention of the sponsorship program in the years from 1997 to 2001.
"The first mention of sponsorship is in 2001," she said.
Ms. Fraser said she couldn't understand why the program would not be mentioned given that other Public Works programs were described in detail.
"We have never seen a document that clearly stated what the objectives of the sponsorship program were."
She said she felt such a program should have been highlighted. For example, she said, the department's review for 1998-99 failed to mention $57.8-million in sponsorship spending.
“We believe that there should have been some mention in the departmental performance report of the sponsorship program."
”We were never able to understand why CCSB [the Communications Co-ordination
Services Branch, which operated the sponsorship program] had its own financial
group and its own contracting,” Ms. Fraser testified.
Yeah, I wonder why it had it's own financing and contracting? Recap what we might expect to hear....
The allegation is that senior political figures used the ad agencies to launder money and so, for example, the wife of a senior politician goes shopping in downtown Montreal, buying very expensive clothes, and a person from the ad agency goes along with a visa card and goes 'click' 'click' and it gets charged back to the advertising agency and gets charged back to the Government of Canada.
As more and more of this comes out it's not just about some esoteric plan to buy sponsorships in Quebec. Its about senior people using these ad agencies as what they say is a 'dry cleaning' operation so that, for example, if a senior official, very close to the top of the previous administration, wanted to have a condo in Montreal so he could go down and meet his 'lady friends' the ad agencies would provide that - bill it back to the government as if its advertising. This is the most corrupt thing I've every heard of in all my years on parliament hill and it's getting worse by the day.
I think all of the top people in the previous administration who were involved in the Quebec operation - we are talking about 8 or 10 people here - I'm not talking about public servants here - there were a few who probably knew what was going on but someone at the top had to give them the blessing.
It is so serious and so sickening, and goes so high and involves so much money that it makes anything that was ever said about Brian Mulroney and his administration pale by comparison. This is very serious stuff. The Royal commission will bring out the here-say because that's a lower standard of proof than you need for criminal charges but the police are on this in a very big way.
Trust me, store clerks who saw the little person with the visa card buying it for the wife of famous people and those who went on trips simply to pick up gifts on behalf of senior politicians and put them on the ad agency card and get back on the plane to bring them back home where they were given as a gift to these senior politicians - this will all come out. It may take a while but it will all come out and it's going to blow this town wide open.
And, of course, the Liberals will soon start again with the character assassination and playing up the Guite excuse that the program, it's secrecy, and it's fraudulent activities were worth it to save Canada. Of course it's Fraser's fault the Bloc cleaned up Quebec!
This woman has become a publicity-loving Ken Starr of the North. She has ceasedE-Group's own Ivan Yiu:
to be what she was hired to be - which, according to R.S.C., c. A-17, an Act
respecting the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and sustainable
development monitoring and reporting 1995, c. 43, s.6., "The Auditor General
shall examine...financial statements" - and become a headline-hungry,
self-mandating Special Prosecutor who comments on policy, not the numbers.
...she took it on herself to be judge, jury and executioner. If she is proven
wrong, the most immediate consequence of her actions (Regardless of what happens
in the rest of the country) will be the resurgence of the Bloc Québecois. If
anyone, outside of separatists, thinks that having the BQ in a renewed position
of strength in the commons is a good thing, then I suppose Fraser has done
Canada a great service. The realistic majority of us will not see it that way.
We will also have more than a few retired public servants suing for wrongful
dismissal, or for having their names dragged through the mud.